Chicken Coop Lowdown – What is Free Range Chicken?

Free Range Chicken.

Chickens on a farm in New Zealand at a feeding time

Free range refers to the way a chicken is farmed, and as a result, increases the quality of the eggs and meat.   In most cases, the chooks are provided with warm, dry shelter when they need it and open grass to roam over during the day.

To define chicken, a chicken belongs to the poultry family, which is a group of domesticated birds, including chickens, turkeys and ducks, that are commonly raised by humans for their eggs and meat.

Free-range farming lets the chickens roam freely outdoors for at least part of its day as opposed to being confined to indoors 24 hours a day.

This free range farming style gives certain benefits to the bird, when being farmed for it meat or eggs.

When thinking in terms of chicken meat, free-range farming produces a few key differences, which enhance consumers’ experience of this particular protein.

  • The obvious well being of the chooks themselves – they are happier.
  • Free Range farming allows the birds to roam freely outside with good access to the pasture, grubs and insects and where they are able to exercise, as naturally and as freely as possible.
  • Free-range chicken offers more complex flavours when cooked. Diners are generally able to tell the difference when served free-range chicken because it actually taste the most like REAL chicken. The taste comes from a mixture of factors including diet and the amount of exercise the birds are able to get daily.  This helps develop their muscles and results in better flavor and texture.
  • Free range chicken takes longer to cook than a cage-raised bird because their muscles are properly developed.  This needs to be taken into account when following recipes.
  • You will also notice an increased amount of muscle and decreased amount of fat, in free-range chicken. When chickens are able to roam, feed on pasture, and are exposed to sunshine, the proteins develop more naturally and are leaner. This means when the chicken is cooked it won’t shrink. It will actually help the chicken cook consistently because of the small amount of healthy fat which is good for you.

You can expect to pay a bit more for Free-range chicken but it’s a small price to pay for the natural lifestyle of the bird, the enhanced flavor of the meat and overall eating experience.

Try free-range chicken today, you wont regret it!

 

Crispy Asian Fried Chicken

 

All Foodies, young and old, love crispy fried chicken.  This recipe adds a fragrant Asian sticky sauce with a little kick to add a little flare to an old favourite.  For best results, be ready to serve and eat when the frying is done.

Ingredients:

Chicken

8 Free range and/or Organic Chicken drumsticks

Garlic Powder                                                1 Tbsp

Onion Powder                                               1 Tbsp

Salt                                                                  1 Tbsp

Water                                                             2 Tbsp

Potato Starch (for coating chicken)             4 Tbsp

Eggs (for coating chicken)                            4

Oil for Frying

Sticky Sauce

Garlic – Finely sliced                                     3 Tbsp

Chilli’s – Finely sliced                                     2 whole

Peanuts – Finely Sliced                                 3 Tbsp

Water                                                             10 Tbsp

Brown Sugar                                                  4 Tbsp

Rice Wine Vinegar                                         1 Tbsp

Rice Soy Sauce                                               1 Tbsp

Rice Potato Starch                                         1 Tbsp

Sesame Seeds                                                 2 Tbsp

Method

  • Marinate chicken drumsticks, overnight or a few hours if you don’t have time, in the garlic powder, onion powder, salt and water.
  • Dredge the marinated drums in potato starch, then in the egg wash, and then once more in the potato starch.
  • Fill a wok or heavy bottomed dish with oil and bring this up to temperature – around 180 degrees Celsius
  • Add the chicken drumsticks to the oil and reduce temperature to medium – low.
  • Deep fry for 15 – 20 minutes until the chicken is a lovely golden brown colour and cooked all the way through. To test if the chicken is done – cut into a piece and the juice inside should be clear.
  • While the chicken is finishing cooking, make the sticky flavorful sauce in a saucepan by lightly frying off the finely sliced chilli and garlic in a little oil.
  • Add to the saucepan the water, brown sugar, peanuts, rice wine vinegar, rice soy sauce, and rice potato starch.
  • Simmer and reduce until it resembles the consistency of a sticky sauce.
  • Pour over the cooked chicken drums or serve on the side as a super tasty condiment to go with it.
  • Garnish with the sesame seeds and you have a dish with an Asian fusion twist.
  • Enjoy!

 

Beef Cheeks Low & Slow with Chestnuts

Delicious Beef Cheeks
Few things say Winter like Beef Cheeks cooked low and slow, filling your home with divine aromas, promising a memorable meal to look forward to.  Beef Cheek leftovers (if you can salvage any!) also make wonderful meat for pies.  Don’t forget to grab some of our legendary Flaky Pastry – it’s not legendary for nothing!

This recipe is so easy, you will want to make it every Winter weekend.

Gather:

750-800gm GD Beef Cheeks trimmed and ready for the pot.

Flour for dusting.

6 large Brown flat meaty mushroom.

12 Shallots or 2 x Red Onions finely chopped.

4 cloves Garlic finely chopped & Olive Oil to fry.

500ml Full bodied Red Wine

500ml GD Beef Stock

2 x Star Anise, 4 x Cloves, Fresh Bay Leaf, fresh culinary Rosemary (use only the fine fresh tips of the plant

2 Tbsp Gourmet Direct Meat Glaze

1 x Tin Delmaine Cherry Tomatoes

1 Tbsp Butter.

1 x Tbsp Oil.

300gm tin Chestnuts drained.

METHOD:

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees C.

Heat 1 Tbsp Olive Oil in a heavy bottomed oven dish (like a Le Creuset).  Dust your beef cheeks with flour, seasoned with a little salt and pepper,  Shake off any excess flour before searing the cheeks on all sides in the hot oil.  Remove the meat from your dish. Set aside and keep warm.

 

Heat 1 tbsp Olive Oil over medium heat in same pan used to sear the Beef Cheeks.  Add chopped Onion or Shallots, sliced Mushrooms and Garlic.  Season immediately with Salt and Pepper.  The Salt will stop the vegetables browning too quickly and allow them to caramelise slowly for maximum flavour.  You are ready to continue when the mushrooms have intensified significantly in colour and flavour.  Now it’s time to add your Red Wine, Beef Stock, Star Anise, Cloves, Rosemary & Bay Leaves.

Take 2 generous Tablespoons of Gourmet Direct Meat glaze (the Secret Sauce!) and add it to the mix.  Stir and simmer. Next add your Delmaine Cherry Tomatoes.  Return the Beef Cheeks to the pot.

After 4 hours, remove the lid and continue to cook for a further 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside to rest while you prepare the Chestnuts.

Heat 1 Tbsp Butter and 1 Tbsp Oil in a non-stick fry pan (You want Butter for flavour and Oil for heat without burning.)  Remove the nuts from the butter and oil and finish in the oven for 10 minutes.

Add the Chestnuts into the meat dish. The Beef Cheeks should pull apart with very little effort.  Serve meaty chunks of Cheek with plenty of vegetables, creamy mashed potato and delicious Jus from the dish.

 

 

Our Easter Egg Hunt is Underway!

We are super excited to launch our 2018 Easter Egg Hunt with $250 worth of product vouchers up for grabs when you solve the puzzle and heaps of Spot Prizes to boot.

Here’s what you do:

Hunt all over the Gourmet Direct site to find 10 coloured Easter Eggs hiding (not very well) in ten product images.  Each Eggs contains 4 or 5 characters that you will need to solve the puzzle.  Clue: There are more than 10 words in the sentence you are trying to create!

You’ll have to click to find them – it’s not going to be easy but it will be fun!

The Easter Eggs will look like this –

Damn!  I just gave you your first piece of the puzzle!

And here’s the fine print:

Terms and conditions.

Grand prize: $250

Must locate all 10 eggs and un-jumble the letters and create the erect sentence to win prize.

The Winner will be the First person to correctly message us the correct sentence.  Please check your work – it would be easy to get this wrong by guessing – it must use all the letter and the question mark provided.  (Doh!  There’s another clue!)

Duration: Easter egg hunt will run until a winner is named or till the 31st March, whichever comes first.

Spot prizes will be awarded (randomly) during the course of the Easter Egg Hunt so keep hunting.  You might be rewarded!

Spot prizes include $20 Gourmet Direct vouchers, Cooler bags, OP Ribs, Cookies, etc.

Must find all 10 eggs and message us the 43 letters found on all 10 eggs.

All prize winners are at the discretion of Gourmet Direct.

All Decisions are final.

 

Good Luck Hunters!  Let us know via Facebook how you are getting on.

 

Top 100 Gemmayze Street Inspired Lamb Shoulder

Feeding a crowd is a breeze with this Slow Cook Lamb Shoulder recipe.  The Lamb ends up so soft you can scoop it with a spoon. This recipe is inspired by a new restaurant in Auckland serving Lebanese cuisine. Gemmazye Street’s menu is a feast of the unusual for real Foodies looking for a special night out.  Featuring already in Cuisine’s Top 100 Restaurants, they are located in St Kevin’s Arcade on Karangahape Road, a unique enough setting in itself, with a view all the way to the Sky Tower.  Well worth a visit with a very welcoming atmosphere.  In the meantime, here is my take on a wonderful Lamb dish they serve.

Tip: If you use a pressure cooker for this recipe, you can reduce the cooking time by two thirds.

You will need:

1 x 2.2kg Gourmet Direct Bone In Lamb Shoulder

1 Tbsp Toasted Coriander Seeds crushed

1 Tbsp Cumin Seeds toasted

200gm Gourmet Direct Lamb Glaze diluted in 500mls hot water

500mls Gourmet Direct Beef Stock

50mls Divinity Pomegranate Balsamic Reduction

2Tbsp Rice Bran Oil

1 tsp Butter

1 x large Onion (chunked)

3 sticks Celery (chunked)

2 Carrots (chunked with skin on)

5 large garlic cloves cleaned and sliced

Apricot & Herb Gremolata:

250gms chopped Otago Dried Apricots

Handful fresh Mint finely chopped

Handful fresh Coriander leaf finely chopped

1 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Seeds

1 tsp grated Lemon Zest

Olive Oil to combine & Lemon Juice to taste

Method: (Preheat Oven to 170 degrees C)

Heat oil and butter in a large pot or oven dish deep enough to accommodate the Lamb and liquid to almost cover.  Rub Corriander and Cumin seeds over Lamb.

Sear Lamb until golden brown and remove from pan. set aside.

Add vegetables to the pan and sear until softening and Onion is golden.  Return Lamb to the pot. Place on top of vegetables.  Add diluted glaze and stock to almost cover the lamb.

Cook on low heat (170 degrees C) in oven for three hours or until Lamb can be pulled from the bone with a spoon. (*See Tip above)

Remove lamb from pot.  Strain out the remaining liquid, discarding the vegetables.   Gently boil meat juices on the stove until reduced to a syrupy liquid.

Add the Divinity Pomegranate reduction. Taste and season.

(Up to this point you can make the Lamb a day ahead if you wish)

Increase oven temp to 180 degrees C.

Return the Lamb to the oven and roast for 20 minutes basting every 5 minutes with the reduced meat juices.  This is a labour of love but well worth it.  Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes while you combine all the Gremolata ingredients and season to taste.

 

Serve the Lamb with wilted greens and mashed potato.   Sprinkle with the Gremolata and serve the whole lot at the table, with any unused meat juices, so that your guests can help themselves.  Try serving a Beetroot Humus on the side for a bit of extra colour.

Enjoy!

Aromatic Pork and Apple Meatball Soup

Finished-Pork-and-Apple-Meatball-Soup

This recipe is very similar to the method of the Chicken Noodle soup released last week but with different flavours working in it.  You may decide to exclude the pork and chicken meat at the end if you wish.

Apples-and-knife

Ingredients:

For the stock:

12 x Chicken Nibbles

2 x Chicken Frames or Carcass

800gms meaty Pork Spare Ribs Bones

One Lime cut into four pieces – squeeze juice into the stock and add the residual Lime..

2 inches of fresh Ginger just opened up but no need to remove the skin

6 Kaffir Lime Leaves

2 x large cloves of fresh Garlic

1 x Granny Smith Apple and half a Red Delicious, cored and sliced into pieces

6 Coriander clumps stalks only (reserve the leaves for later)

One whole red chilli – split down the middle and seeds removed (This is optional but I like a bit of heat)

One Carrot and one parsnip chopped into chunks

Generous end of a clump of celery

500mls good quality Chicken Stock

500mls Beef stock

Water to top up stock

Oil and butter for searing chicken nibbles

Searing in Copper Pot

For the Finished Soup:

1.5 Pork and Apple Sausages per person

1 x packet good quality egg noodles (or your favourite noodles or fine Laganelle al Limone pasta noodles, which have a lovely Lemon infusion that works well with this soup.)

1 x portion of Broccoli finely sliced

1 x dash of good quality medium Sherry

Julienne Carrot, Spring Onion and Sweet Peppers

Meat retrieved from your stock brew.

Sear off the chicken nibbles and pork ribs  in a little butter and oil until they are browning up.  Add the chicken frames and sear for 10 minutes.  Add the ginger, garlic, Kaffir leaves and other vegetables and apple slices.  Add Lime juice and skins and chicken stock then beef stock. Top up with equal quantities of water.  Season with Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Put the lid on the pot and after ten minutes turn the heat down to simmer.  Simmer until the meat of the Pork Ribs is falling off the bones.  This will take around 30 minutes.

Take the pot off the heat and leave to cool completely.

Pork-and-Apple-Meatball-Soup

Drain the remaining stock and veges through a large sieve into another large pot.  Extract larger pieces of chicken and the pork meat from the ribs.  Refrigerate separately.  Use a potato masher to extract every last bit of goodness from the vegetable slurry.

Allow the stock to cool and then refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.  The next day you can remove any excess fat that has settled on the surface of the stock if you wish.

To assemble the soup:

Extract twice the required quantity of stock for the number you are feeding.  Freeze the rest for another day.

Reheat the stock on a brisk boil to reduce the quantity by half.   Now add loads of fresh chopped Coriander leaf, finely sliced vegetables and, if you wish, finely diced red chilli.

Simmer until the veges are almost tender – about ten minutes. Now add the little meatballs allowing 1 1/2 pork sausages per person.  Allow the Pork balls to poach.  Taste and season.  If it needs a little Zing, add another small dash of Sherry.

Add your noodles.  Then add the shredded chicken and pork meat.  Just a small handful per person   It is important not to add the meat too early or it will go to mush.  Leave the meat quite naturally chunky, as it is if you gently extract it from the chicken carcass.  Simmer until the meat is hot and the noodles are cooked.

 

Serve with crusty bread.

Healthy Chicken Noodle Soup starts with Chicken Feet

Nothing beats homemade Chicken Soup for flavour or personal satisfaction when the job is complete.  You use nearly the whole chicken including, yes, including the feet!  The feet add a depth of flavour not achievable through simmering the carcass alone.  If the thought of chicken feet in your soup is too abhorrent then purchase a dozen chicken nibbles or wings and substitute them instead.  Use a nice deep pot for this brew.  The chicken feet crackle and spit when they’re searing so I use a crayfish pot which accommodates the whole delicious stock concoction nicely.  Try this recipe and see if you notice a difference. The resulting broth is rich and lite with a sticky depth of flavour and a lovely clean finish.  Add loads of fresh Asian Greens and herbs and the perfect Chinese soup noodles and you have a rich yet lite, satisfying, life-giving meal.

Stunning Chicken SOup made from scratch
Stunning Chicken Soup made from scratch

Ingredients:

For the stock:

12 x Chicken Feet

3 x Chicken Frames or Carcass

1 x Size 16 Free Range Chicken

Two stalks of Lemon Grass split down the middle and bashed about a bit.

2 inches of fresh Ginger just opened up but no need to remove the skin

6 Kaffir Lime Leaves

Half a bulb of fresh Garlic

Two clumps of Pak Choy Bulbs and white flesh only (reserve the leaves)

6 Coriander clumps stalks only (reserve the leaves for later)

One whole lemon – juice and rind sliced into chunks

One whole red chilli – split down the middle and seeds removed (This is optional but I like a bit of heat)

1/4 small cabbage

Generous end of a clump of celery

500mls good quality Chicken Stock

Oil and butter for searing chicken feet (not lots)

For the Finished Soup:

1 x packet good quality egg noodles (or your favourite noodles or fine Laganelle al Limone pasta noodles, which have a lovely Lemon infusion that works well with this soup.)

1 x 300ml can Coconut Cream

1 x 300ml can coconut milk or another cream if your body gives you permission.

Chicken-Feet  Chicken-Carcass-Cooking

Sear off the chicken feet in a little butter and oil until they are browning up.  Add the chicken frames and sear for 10 minutes.  Add the ginger, garlic, Kaffir leaves, Lemon Grass, Garlic and sear further.  Add Lemon juice and chicken stock then the rest of the ingredients, with the exception of the whole chicken.  Season with Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Add the whole chicken and just enough water to cover it.  Put the lid on the pot and after ten minutes turn the heat down to simmer.  Simmer until the meat of the whole chicken is falling off the bones.  This will take around 40 minutes.

Remove the whole chicken to a platter to cool til you can extract the yummy meat.  Give the bones to your cat who will love you for them.  Reserve the meat, cover and refrigerate.

Drain the remaining stock and veges through a large sieve into another large pot.  Use a potato masher to extract every last bit of goodness from the vegetable slurry.

Allow the stock to cool and then refrigerate overnight.  The next day you can remove any excess fat that has settled on the surface of the stock if you wish.

Reducing-Chicken-Stock

To assemble the soup:

*Note – you may want to freeze a quantity of the stock at this point depending on whose Army you are feeding!

Reheat the stock on a brisk boil to reduce the quantity by half.   Now add loads of fresh chopped Coriander leaf, Pak Choy leaf, a little extra crushed Garlic, Ginger and finely diced red chilli.

Add the Coconut Cream and milk.  Depending on your stock quantity, you may not want two cans here.   Taste and season.  Your reaction should be “Wow!”  If it needs a little Zing, add the juice of half a Lime.

Add your noodles.  Simmer gently for ten minutes. Lastly add the shredded chicken meat.   It is important not to add the meat too early or it will go to mush.  Leave the meat quite naturally chunky, as it is if you gently extract it from the chicken carcass.  Simmer until the chicken meat is hot and the noodles are cooked.

Finished-Soup-plated

To Serve:

Extract the noodles first and place in the centre of a wide soup bowl.  Add the meat component on top then ladle the exquisite soup broth.  Add a generous handful of chopped, fresh Coriander leaves to garnish.    If you are not such a Coriander fan then Parsley will suffice here.

 

Northern Thai Pork Sausage ‘Sai Oua’

Pandawan Cooking School is one of a number of cooking schools based in Chiang Mai. What makes Pandawan different is their luxurious cooking facilities upstairs, with views out towards the gardens. That’s not a must have, however, when you’re sweating about what you have to cook, you don’t also want to be physically sweating in a stuffy working kitchen in Chiang Mai’s old town!

The first stop on the tour was to the local markets. Just as you’d expect anywhere, there’s a plethora of what you recognise and a wide array of ingredients you’d rarely find in New Zealand. Our guide explained the difference between Holy Basil and Sweet Thai Basil. (Sweet Thai has a anise clove flavour) and then the difference between lime (used for it’s juices) and the wrinkly kaffir lime (used for it’s skin, similar to lemon rind).

northern_thailand_recipes__1

Chiang Mai Market Butchery

The butcher is a different place altogether from what you’re used to at Gourmet Direct. Meat is presented in the open, in a slightly cooled room with every part of the animal there to be bartered for. Chicken doesn’t just come in breasts and thighs, there is no wasted parts of the chicken, after all, Thailand has 67 million people to feed!

northern_thailand_recipes__2

The prize chickens are the fighting ones, well the fighting cocks that lost. They are well looked after, at least when they’re alive, so they taste the best, so we’re told. 

prize fighting chickens

Angry bird shaped precooked meat helps kids eat their soup as fast as any other trick.

northern_thailand_recipes__4

Chiang Mai Market Butchery

On to the first tasting and it’s pork scratchings with a northern green chilli paste delicacy that is sweeter than most with a fire that fills the mouth not the throat. I decide to buy a little of both as they go great with a Beer Chang or Singha. Ideal for the cooler evenings, after these super hot and dry days in their 30’s.

northern_thailand_recipes__5

Marinate then make the sausage

Last stop on the way out of the market, is also the first stop for most during the evenings so I’m told with queues ready to buy 3 – 4 kg at a time.  The Pork Sausage looks like the South Africa boerewors yet taste a world apart. Here it’s about spicing the sausage for marination before making the sausage not after. That way the marinate is integral to the sausage.

northern_thailand_recipes__6

Inside the sausage goes turmeric, galanga, lemon grass and chilli paste, but despite some smiles and wrangling, I was unable to get the exact measure of each to make these beauties. Needless to say the chilli paste is more important than the pork in these 100% pork sausages. We decided to take up the challenge and make Northern Thai Pork Sausages, now available at the link below.

Gourmet Direct Northern Thai Pork Sausage

>> Link to pork sausage

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